Meridia sat at the end of her boat, smoking a cigarette and gazing into the dark water of the marina. It was over. It was all over. She turned the lipstick in her hands, the cold metal seemed to leech all the warmth from her body despite the small size. There was lipstick on her boat that wasn’t hers. The only other person with access to this bedroom was Ted, the used condom she found by the bed wasn’t hers either. So not only was he cheating on her, but he was using her yacht to show off to his mistress.
Meridia opened her phone, a single post about him could ruin his life. With her two hundred and eighty-two million followers, she would destroy his life and salt the earth behind him. He wouldn’t even be safe if he went back to his hometown in Idaho and changed his name. Meridians -her fans- were ravenous, her hairdresser had gotten hate letters and death threats when she dyed her hair blonde, imagine what they’d do to her cheating husband.
She typed a post, a picture of them together from last year, and captioned it “happy early one year anniversary babe, sucks that you cheated on me on my own boat but I’m glad you got some sun! xoxo -m” her finger hovered over the submit button. She had more power than some world leaders, she had the eyes and hearts of masses. Shit, she thought, the Moon of Baroda. Ted still had her necklace, she couldn’t start her warpath before she got back the massive diamond necklace that had been owned by Marilyn Monroe. If she started a long bitter divorce now, he could claim it’s currently his and make her fight for it. She deleted her post and closed her phone. Next time, prenup.
The cigarette was burning down to the filter now. She was about to flick it into the dark water then thought better of it, she could be called a lot of things, but not a litterbug. She squinted into the darkness. It was so late that no boats were making waves, the water was a still black mirror, and down below the surface she imagined she could see shapes moving. A mass of adoring fans, the specter of Marilyn, her husband being strangled.
She blinked and rubbed her eyes, even the fury brought about by the cheating couldn’t keep her awake at this hour. She stood up and put the now-cold cigarette butt in her skirt pocket, the stars above seemed to shimmer and wink in the late night heat. She would bring them all down if she had to, she would turn the earth to ash if that’s what it took to destroy her husband.
She slept on her boat, the next morning her phone was buzzing. Her assistant Jordan was calling her to tell her she was late for something, or had missed an appointment, or forgotten to be in an interview on the Late Show. It seemed that’s what Jordan’s job was lately. Meridia had been out of it, even before her discovery.
She didn’t read the countless emails and texts that filled her phone to the point of overflowing, she simply texted Jordan: “911 emergency break needed, I’ll be missing for at least seven days, do what you must, use that savings account at your discretion to buy whatever you want. xoxo -m”
She noticed Ted didn’t message her, not even a “good morning” or “I miss you honey”? Wow, she thought. I’m going to kill him twice.
She packed a black duffel bag with her most boring clothes, tied her hair into a pony, put on a black baseball cap and pulled her hair through it. She rummaged through her drawer until she found an old pair of Ted’s golf sunglasses, all of hers were either bright pink or had giant decorative snakes. These glasses and hat made her look like a soccer mom on the way to pick up her kids.
She picked up one of her Jiu-Jitsu trophies, feeling the weight of it in her hand. She wanted to roundhouse kick Ted hard and then jam this down his throat. She threw it against the wall as hard as she could, it shattered the glass case for her platinum album award. She then left her boat quietly, avoiding any yacht staff that might be clocking in for their morning shifts.
A short drive and a few swipes of her black card later. She was on a plane, her plane, on the way to Ted’s hometown– Wynter, Idaho. The necklace was at her father-in-law’s house getting a new clasp. She’d run by, grab it. Then ruin Ted’s life, easy as that.
She checked her phone, finally Ted had messaged her, just a snapchat of him making duck lips at the camera. “Miss u” said the caption. She disabled location on her phone and then turned it off.
The town had a population of sixty-three when Ted and her met. And after what he called the “Meridia effect” it blew up to two hundred and fifty. Suddenly this small vacation town that had only had a few dozen houses and a church was the center of everyone’s attention. A single geo-tagged instagram post had brought in dozens of families over the course of a few months. Meridia and Ted seemed to think it was a nice thing, bringing business and new blood to Wynter, but the native population had been pissed. She didn’t go there anymore.
The cold air felt like a radioactive slap to the face when she stepped out of the plane. She’d flown to Twin Falls as it was the closest airport to Wynter. She rented the shittiest car she could find, using cash. She didn’t want to bring any undue attention to herself. It was barely autumn, yet in Idaho it felt like- well, winter. She preferred LA, maybe it was hot and muggy there all the time but at least you could feel your face. The car she rented was a 1992 two door Yugo, and it seemed like a relic from centuries past. Luckily it didn’t have a functioning radio, so she had plenty of time to stew in her own thoughts as she drove to Wynter.
The car came around a bend and she saw a stunning mountain range. Wynter was exactly how she remembered it, slightly bloated from the Meridia effect, new houses next to old log cabins, a boat rental agency was closing up for the season. Most of the new houses seemed empty and half-abandoned, maybe the fad of living in a small podunk mountain-town was fading. She pulled into town proper, by the boat rental place she saw a group of pimply teens in life vests.They were pulling a large wooden dock out of the water and dragging it ashore. Meridia pulled her car over and waved to them as she slowly rolled the window down.
“Hey guys! I’m just visiting and I was wondering if you know the Penbrights?” she said in her best impression of a midwestern accent.
The teens turned around, the dock had left large crevices in the soft sand of the beach. They stared blankly, like she’d spoken gibberish.
“You know, the guy who married Meridia? Doesn’t his family live here?” The kids still stared, their eyes seemed hollow, sunken in, it reminded her of Ted a little, he had a medical condition that gave him heavy bags under his eyes. Or maybe it was the water here, she thought with horror.
The kids were still freezing her out, she rolled her eyes behind her sunglasses and cranked the window back up. They probably hated her and the Penbrights, great.
Her little car sputtered and coughed as she pulled up to a diner, an honest-to-god diner. Silver and train-shaped like in the movies. There was even a little bell that rang as she walked in. A handful of old people sat in the back drinking coffee, nobody glanced at her.
She sat at one of the fading teal barstools and looked at a menu. Mostly butter and grease, she thought. But hell, she deserved a break from her faux-veganism after being cheated on. The waitress was older, she had a tight grey bun and some don’t-fuck-with-me eyes that contrasted her bright pink frilly uniform. She leaned against the bar and stared at Meridia with that sunken-eye look. God, even she had it. Maybe the whole town was lead-poisoned, Meridia thought. Maybe Ted would die slowly on his own.
“Whatcha need?” the waitress asked, her voice sounded tired.
“Spanish omelet and some black coffee, please” Meridia said in her midwest accent. She’d taken off her sunglasses but she hoped this waitress wouldn’t recognize her.
“Coming right up” said the waitress without asking how she’d like her eggs, or if she wanted water, or anything. Oh well, thought Meridia, I’ll still tip the hell out of her.
The omelet came about ten minutes later, it was ice-cold.
“Thank you!” said Meridia cheerfully. “Say, can I ask you something?”
The waitress was mid-turn, seemingly eager to be anywhere else.
“Sure hun,” she grunted.
“Do you know where the Penbrights live?”
The waitress squinted, “yeah, down the road with the pink mailbox. If you wanna egg their house, go after five o’ clock, they’ll be in church.”
Meridia gaped, she never realized how deeply the town hated her and her husband. She picked at her food, left a two-hundred percent tip and went back to her car.